Olive Oil 101: How to Choose an Olive Oil
Everyone has heard that olive oil is good for you and is an important addition to a healthy diet, but do you know that not all olive oil is created equal? With misleading marketing tactics and recent reports on olive oil fraud, its important to pick a good olive oil if you want all of the health benefits and flavor it can provide. What makes an olive oil good? Keep reading to see our guidelines for choosing the best olive oil:
1. Pick an extra virgin olive oil. If a label says virgin olive oil, pure olive oil, light olive oil, or just olive oil that means that is a lower grade, can be made with highly refined products, made from fruit that is damaged or fermented, or blended with lower grade oils. Extra virgin is the highest quality oil, made from the best fruit. When you buy extra virgin you are getting oil that contains the highest level of antioxidants, resulting in the most flavor and health benefits.
2. Smell it/Taste it. Depending on the varietal and terroir, a good extra virgin olive oil should have fresh, grassy aromas that may resemble fresh fruits or vegetables. To taste your oil, pour about 1/2 tablespoon into a small cup. Holding the cup in one hand, cover it with the other and swirl it around. Smell the oil, then take a sip and as if you are tasting wine, draw some air in and let the taste coat your mouth before swallowing. It should be fruity (think olive-y), bitter, and pungent (a pepperiness that lingers in your throat). If it tastes winey or vinegary, fusty or metallic, or has no flavor that means it is probably not a good oil or is rancid.
3.Look for the harvest date or best by date. While there is no exact expiration date for an olive oil, the fresher the better. Over time, olive oil will lose its flavor and antioxidants. It is best to use an oil within two years (or sooner) of the harvest date. The best by date can vary depending on the supplier, so try to choose one that is as far from the best by date as possible.
While there are many brands and types of olive oil available to consumers, the best way to know if your olive oil is a good oil is through smell and taste. That is how we choose our oils here at New Canaan Olive Oil and we go step further to aquire the chemical analysis of each oil to ensure it meets the standards for being extra virgin. To learn more about how we choose our extra virgin olive oils, read our blog on Quality Control. When you buy from us, you know you are getting a good olive oil, so you only have to worry about finding one for your specific palate or cuisine.